Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue has accused the Government of continuing to abandon rheumatology patients in Donegal after receiving confirmation that the outreach clinic at Letterkenny General Hospital will not be re-opened before the first quarter of 2016. Despite a series of Government promises, the reopening of the clinic has been repeatedly delayed.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “The situation at Letterkenny General Hospital is completely unacceptable. Over the past 4 years patients from Donegal have had to travel long distances for treatment despite consistent promises that the outreach clinic in Letterkenny would be reopened. The process involved in appointing the third rheumatologist post is ridiculously slow. In May 2015 I was advised that the NRS were starting the recruitment process, yet 5 months later they are currently only in the process of organising interviews for this post. At this rate I don’t envisage a clinic will be operational within the next 6 months despite assurances over the last 4 years that the reinstatement of this clinic was a priority.
The Health Minister has stood back and allowed the Saolta Hospital Group to drag its heels on this important issue. Nobody has been willing to take charge of the situation to either allocate or re-direct doctors to Letterkenny so that the out-reach clinic could be reopened. It is clear that the facility in Manorhamilton is being prioritised. There are almost 300 rheumatology patients in Donegal, more than justifying an outreach clinic at Letterkenny. Why are these patients not being prioritised? Why is the Minister content to allow patients from Donegal, many of whom are in constant pain, endure the long journey to Manorhamilton? Why are patients in Leitrim being prioritised over patients in Donegal?
“The HSE committed to re-instate the clinic numerous times over the last number of years. Donegal patients cannot be expected to wait any longer for this essential service. I am calling on the HSE and the Minister to reinstate the clinic on the basis that the recruitment of a 3rd rheumatology consultant is underway”, concluded Deputy McConalogue.